NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A man pointed a “military-grade laser” into the cockpit of a Metro police helicopter over the weekend, placing the flight crew in danger of “permanent blindness” and a potential crash, according to an arrest warrant.
Police said they were conducting flight operations Saturday night in Air One, which is a marked Metro Nashville Police Department helicopter, over the area of Interstate 24 in South Nashville, assisting officers on the ground with their street racing initiative.
The warrant states Air One was “lased multiple times” into the cockpit of the helicopter with “a powerful green military-grade laser,” which had an effective range of ten miles.
The laser “can cause permanent blindness” with “minimal exposure,” according to the police report.
The pilots, Matt Harris and Spencer Pittman, informed officers on that ground that the laser was coming from an apartment on Bridgeway Circle, which is where police said they located 43-year-old Shannon Cole, who was still holding the 5,000 milliwatt laser.
When Cole was questioned by police, they said he admitted to shining the laser into the police helicopter, which was about 750 to 1,000 feet off the ground at the time.
Cole was arrested on two counts of felony reckless endangerment and two counts of assault with a laser pointer. His bond was set at $13,000.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating and released the following statement to News 2 on Monday morning:
“The crew of a Nashville police helicopter reported that a green laser illuminated their aircraft on May 15 around 8:45 p.m. local time. The helicopter was about two miles southwest of Nashville at an altitude of 1,000 feet. No injuries were reported.”